This afternoon, I dropped by the Squirrel Hill Library and picked up a few books, including The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, recently out from W.W. Norton. It's one of five books I carried home on this suddenly sunny and unseasonably warm day, also including a mystery, a book about food and how human consumption of it changed when people discovered how to cook it, another about why many people choose not to kill themselves after considering doing so, and a collection of short stories by Russell Banks. This fall, I had been teaching six classes, keeping busy with reading papers, so there hadn't been much time for leisure reading.
I hope to post more frequently here during my free time, and to read more of what's going on in your lives.
It also struck me while watching -- I love Sleepy Hollow so much, it has made me fannish again. And Tom Mison and Nicole Beharrie are *amazing*. Plus I don't think there's a supporting character I don't love, except maybe Headless. (Irving! Jenny! Katrina! Andy! Sineater dude whose name I should know! Macey!) But it's still ridiculous and inconsistent, like Really Good Crack. The Hour, on the other hand, is just nearly perfect, dramatically. Plus I want to wear everything Bel wears.* I am going to ask my mom for one of her old 50s-60s tiny wristwatches that she stopped using in the 70s, because Bel wears one. (*Because of the Going Out of Business sales at my late lamented D. L. Cerney last year . . . I have a better start towards it than one might think.)
End of semester is semester's end-y. Awesome writing center party reminded me of how lucky I am to have such great co-workers/friends there. Through random conversation the day before, discovered someone there is a Dr. Who fan, so she wore her "Angels have the phonebox" t-shirt to the party because she knew I'd get it. She doesn't ordinarily travel in geeky circles; I clearly need to take her and her husband to the Way Station so they can see the TARDIS . . .
Random comment from student has me in a internal uproar. He thanked me for the class, but referred to "the problems" and the fact that "some did not feel the way I did." Now I am kinda glad I am taking a semester off from that school in the spring. It was a night class, so more adult students. That goes one of two ways -- amazing grownups who work hard and know what they want, or people who are so tired from juggling ft jobs and families that they are more privileged than anyone. This class was difficult but lively; my faculty observer gave me the most glowing of all the glowing observation write-ups I have ever received, and I thought overall I'd managed it quite well, considering. BUT I pissed off some of the students because oddly enough I do not give As to papers that a) don't get to the point 'til halfway through, and b) aren't proofread or in standard grammar. I guess they're not used to that. Talk about the devaluation of college degrees. Mind you, another student walked out with me and told me how much he appreciated working on his writing and how he's decided to minor in English and how he's keeping all the books, so not a totally traumatic evening. And then I went to the awesome writing center party.
I was told by a coworker at J who also adjuncts at Columbia that our department chair there (Columbia, that is, place of my Ph.D.-age) told her they are deliberately hiring YOUNG out of grad school because they're "more malleable." So my whole career is hopeless and I will be an adjunct forever.* Happy holidays.
*But *I* have a Mitchell-Lama co-op, so the universe -- and NYC -- has told me it loves me.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.dreamwidth.org/12345.htm
Had my pre-chemo doctor’s appointment yesterday morning and while at the pre-appointment bloodwork lab, discovered that I was scheduled for a procedure that afternoon which wasn’t on either my or Matthew’s calendar. The lab check-in people didn’t have the access to determine what the procedure was so we had to wait until we saw my doctor to find out it was for my first lumbar puncture chemo infusion.
The doctor was ready to postpone it, as he could tell I wasn’t mentally prepared for it–I’d been expecting to go back to work after my morning appointment with him–but Matthew and I talked it over and figured it made more sense for me to just get it over and done with.
The reason I need to have lumbar puncture chemotherapy is because blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can spread to the brain and cerebrospinal areas, with some–including ones that present in the nasopharyngeal area like mine–having a higher likelihood. However, most chemo drugs can’t penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and because of that, the cerebrospinal area is considered a “sanctuary” location for cancer cells. So even though my original lumbar puncture biopsy was clean, it’s possible the sample missed cancer cells if there aren’t very many. As such, it’s standard procedure to administer chemo drugs via lumbar puncture to cases like mine in addition to the regular cycles of chemo cocktail I’m on. I’m slated to have a total of four of these lumbar puncture chemo sessions.
One down, three to go.
The procedure itself was kinda ouchie at first, felt like the big nerve in my lower back and down my leg was being twanged and pinched repeatedly…which, I guess it was. But the nurse/doctor (I’m not actually sure if it was a nurse practitioner or a doctor doing the procedure) was extremely responsive, communicative, and kind, and she saw I was in pain–both from the change in my breathing and my yelp–and switched to the smaller (black v. yellow*) needle. That switch made all the difference. It went from unpleasantly uncomfortable to hardly more than a minor prick. She also made a note in my folder to use the black needle on my lumbar punctures from now on.
Also learned an interesting factoid. When administering chemo via lumbar puncture, they take out exactly as much spinal fluid as chemo drug that they plan to inject in order to maintain the fluid balance. The spinal fluid they took out they’re sending to check for cancer cells. Waste not and all, I guess.
Little sore still this morning, but at least no spinal headache. Went back to work today as this drug (methotrexate) isn’t expected to have the same level of side effects as the rest of my chemo cocktail, and I’ll be out of the office after tomorrow’s round three infusion blitz through the new year.
*Isn’t it so apropos that the needle color indicators are bee colors?
- Worked full workweek, having coffee, Xmas shopping online; feel like my old self…until chemo roller coaster starts again #CopingWithCancer 16:52:59, 2013-12-14
- Gah! Looks like spammers hacked my Twitter account. Should be fixed now. Apologies for the last spam tweets. Thx for heads up @Vylar_Kaftan! 13:57:58, 2013-12-14
- Stereo sound! I can hear out of my right ear for the first time since September! Chemo: 2; Tumor: 0 #CopingWithCancer 08:40:56, 2013-12-09
Korean Chili Rice Crackers
spicy chilli rice crackers
rustic rolled oat flapjack with berry-infused cranberries
See Box #3.
Eleanor's Apple Crumble
raisins, cinnamon and honey almonds and apple
See Box #10.
pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate buttons and cranberries
Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel
A mystical forest. A tempting gingerbread house. Two imaginative siblings embark on a precarious adventure to find something to eat when their fortunes turn for the worst. This enduring fairytale of lost children, candy sweets and an evil witch comes to life in an enchanting holiday production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel – a nineteenth-century opera admired for its fun and folk-music-inspired themes, including the famous, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” Sung in English with English supertitles.
Hansel and Gretel is one of the first operas that I can remember watching. My dad had a performance on VHS (I would guess it was from the Met, but a five year old doesn’t note these things) and we would often watch it as a family. But I’m pretty sure I never saw the show live as a kid, so when Dad suggested that the entire family see it together, I was excited.
Now, I enjoyed the show a lot. Let me say that right now. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, it’s a fantastic fairy tale. BUT. My goodness. There’s a lot of little things that made me go “Whaaaa?” as I watched.
First of all, there is no witch in the first act. Instead, we spend the majority of it watching Hansel and Gretel goof off at home. Gretel likes to daydream, and Hansel is lazy, so they ignore their chores and dance and cavort around their tiny hut. When their mom gets home, she’s understandably upset. She kicks the kids out to go pick strawberries. You’d think that this would be the point where the witch shows up, but no. We’ve got to go through a drunken father routine (the song is pretty catchy) until we finally follow the kids into the forest, but even there the story takes a bizarre detour as a choir of angels flies in to protect the children as the Sandman puts them to sleep. And curtain. Where’s my gingerbread house?
Act Two commences not with sneaky witchery, but with a song and dance by the Dew Fairy, whom I’m sure is a very charming lady but not who I want to see at this point. The kids wake up and FINALLY we get to the gingerbread house. I’m ready for a wicked old hag, with a long pointed nose and warts galore. Green skin would not be amiss. Instead, I get an Elizabethan drag queen. I give points to Opera San Jose for creating a memorable and scary witch, but GOODNESS THINK OF THE CHILDREN, especially as the witch has a penchant for removing another layer of clothing every few minutes. She plumps Hansel up in his candy cane prison, and tries to pop Gretel into the oven, but the girl tricks her and the witch is transformed into a giant piece of gingerbread. This releases all the children previously transformed into gingerbread garden statuary, which leads me to wonder how on earth the witch amassed so many kids in the first place. Either she isn’t eating them, in which case Hansel’s plumpness shouldn’t have been such a concern, or she has so much child traffic coming through that she has at least a dozen children in her meal queue. Shouldn’t some parents be intervening?
At first it seemed like the Sandman (Sandwoman?) was working for the witch, but then I think it turned out that she was a slave of the witch, but I’m not really sure because she doesn’t talk, unless you are fluent in Flapping Cape sign language.
But as I said, I loved this opera when I was a wee one and I no doubt will still adore it when I'm old and gray. It's a classic fairy tale with catchy songs - and, as an added bonus, it's usually performed in English instead of the original German so it's a great "starter opera" for people who haven't yet the stamina for Puccini or Mozart.
Mother died last night,
Mother who never dies.
Winter was in the air,
many months away
but in the air nevertheless.
It was the tenth of May.
Hyacinth and apple blossom
bloomed in the back garden.
We could hear
Maria singing songs from Czechoslovakia—
How alone I am—
songs of that kind.
How alone I am,
no mother, no father—
my brain seems so empty without them.
Aromas drifted out of the earth;
the dishes were in the sink,
rinsed but not stacked.
Under the full moon
Maria was folding the washing;
the stiff sheets became
dry white rectangles of moonlight.
How alone I am, but in music
my desolation is my rejoicing.
It was the tenth of May
as it had been the ninth, the eighth.
Mother slept in her bed,
her arms outstretched, her head
balanced between them.
You’re stepping on your father, my mother said,
and indeed I was standing exactly in the center
of a bed of grass, mown so neatly it could have been
my father’s grave, although there was no stone saying so.
You’re stepping on your father, she repeated,
louder this time, which began to be strange to me,
since she was dead herself; even the doctor had admitted it.
I moved slightly to the side, to where
my father ended and my mother began.
The cemetery was silent. Wind blew through the trees;
I could hear, very faintly, sounds of weeping several rows away,
and beyond that, a dog wailing.
At length these sounds abated. It crossed my mind
I had no memory of being driven here,
to what now seemed a cemetery, though it could have been
a cemetery in my mind only; perhaps it was a park, or if not a park,
a garden or bower, perfumed, I now realized, with the scent of roses—
douceur de vivre filling the air, the sweetness of living,
as the saying goes. At some point,
it occurred to me I was alone.
Where had the others gone,
my cousins and sister, Caitlin and Abigail?
By now the light was fading. Where was the car
waiting to take us home?
I then began seeking for some alternative. I felt
an impatience growing in me, approaching, I would say, anxiety.
Finally, in the distance, I made out a small train,
stopped, it seemed, behind some foliage, the conductor
lingering against a doorframe, smoking a cigarette.
Do not forget me, I cried, running now
over many plots, many mothers and fathers—
Do not forget me, I cried, when at last I reached him.
Madam, he said, pointing to the tracks,
surely you realize this is the end, the tracks do not go further.
His words were harsh, and yet his eyes were kind;
this encouraged me to press my case harder.
But they go back, I said, and I remarked
their sturdiness, as though they had many such returns ahead of them.
You know, he said, our work is difficult: we confront
much sorrow and disappointment.
He gazed at me with increasing frankness.
I was like you once, he added, in love with turbulence.
Now I spoke as to an old friend:
What of you, I said, since he was free to leave,
have you no wish to go home,
to see the city again?
This is my home, he said.
The city — the city is where I disappear.
& one more here.
here are three from the beginning of the collection that i really like:
There is no record of us, my darling.
No stone, no name written within.
There was a memory of rain
but it was alone in the world then.
Florida loves me,
exams I failed as a child love me.
An unfinished name loves me,
a name with a scrawl for its final half.
near midnight a box of ashes falls
hopefully from my hands,
is reflected for its remaining days
in a room on the first storey.
I've received a letter from the ledger's wife:
in memory of our voice together
stay with us.
We watch for you. Amen.
Heartbeat, there is no record of, mention of us,
notation of us.
No name for stone,
no name written within the stone.
No white name, no white stone.
you are looking right at me
even though I try to spend
a good part of the empty
day down near the lagoon
but it is miles
from here and although
a few miles wide
hard to see except
for an emphasis
of long-distance brush
and smoke which ashes
over far away
I take for campsites
watching out and warning
for the dead. I never look in
so tonight I have left
shades up and windows open
seeking a simplicity
in your face and mouth
and some starless
winter for the woman
next to you. When I was much
younger I did not fear
death and hopes
were small extremes
I felt as I feel the woods
drop into shadow
and return to less
as were lights
and the faces of most
tender or at least
revealing former marks
I could remember
as tender faces which
feared their loneliness.
I see the shadow of
my hair reflected
across from me on
a yellow raincoat
the frame of the window
and the leaves flapping.
MB reveals the original ending of this poem toward the end of his introduction in Envelope of Night: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1966-1990, a section in which he discusses his changing relationship to revision--
I did not feel I was choosing arrogantly not to rewrite, but rather in the spirit of "I have invested in rewriting for eighteen years, so now for eighteen years I will not rewrite, and after this time will decide which method serves me or which I prefer."
There is oddly enough for me one poem in this edition of selected poems which I would now revise. The poem is "Dear Z," again from Ruby for Grief. I would now put back into the poem the initial closing lines I took away:
I don't know
how lucky I am.
At the time of writing the poems that are in Ruby for Grief, I certainly did not know how lucky I was, or am. And more often than I would like to admit it is a feeling which still recurs.
Consonant with sound
in low water. So
the night begins again,
rain in a dream,
of the dream is
moon and sound,
dream and water,
for an end.
Still the night makes
up sound, drifting
of old loves, old
I could not so much
as simply love,
so into fear of
I go. I find
a face upon
I had my review at the Center for Writing yesterday. My boss is a friend of many years who was a friend first. And we talked about how I'm burning out a bit. ( Read more...Collapse )